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XLV

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISLAM       23
and during the lifetime of Mohamed many of his followers
had committed to memory the whole of the Koraii. To-
day the title of Hofiz, which implies this sacred accom-
plishment, is one of honour. But it must not be
supposed that during Mohamed's life the order of the
various chapters and verses was settled. Indeed we know
that this was not the case, for Omar, after the overthrow
of Moseilama, pointed out to Abu Bekr that the losses
among the reciters of the Koran had been heavy, and
suggested that its various portions should be collected.
This pious task was entrusted to Zayd, the Chief Secretary
of the Prophet, who sought out the fragments and
gathered them together, " from date-leaves, from tablets of;
white stone and from the breasts of men." This was the'
official and authoritative edition ; but a generation later,
under Othman, a second edition was prepared by a com-
mittee consisting of Zayd and three members of the
Kureish tribe. The original copy of the first edition was
produced for this purpose, and a final authoritative edition
was prepared, all existing copies being burned after its
issue. In consequence of this care, there is no question
whatever that the Koran, as read to-day all over the
Moslem world, is identical with that published during the
Caliphate of Othman. In the sequence of some of the
verses there is confusion, but throughout there is no
question as to the genuineness and accuracy of the verses.
When we consider the times in which they had their
origin this is extraordinary.
The Koran is universally admitted to be written in
the most perfect Arabic, the dialect of the Kureish tribe,
and it is held to be as much a masterpieq^gf literature as
we esteem our Bible to be. Moreover, the Koran is read
to-day exactly as it was dictated by Mohamed, whereas
we cannot deny that the Biblejsjijtondatioji.
To enlarge upon the doctrine preached in the Koran
would be beyond the scope of this work. The one aim
and object of Mohamed in the Meccan suras was to
convert his fellow-countrymen from idolatry to the worship
of one God. To effect this, the Prophet, who deeply felt
his responsibility, extolled the omnipotence of God and